In recent times, in-vehicle notifications have proliferated with a focus on the exhibition of technological prowess rather than the effective and safe fulfilment of actual driving needs. In effect, information portrayed by automotive infotainment devices, while useful, is often ignored by the driver due to field of view limitations associated with traditional instrumentation panels. Not surprisingly, under grave visibility conditions and under motorway-level driving speeds, such systems are rendered incapable of presenting effectively useful information to the user. Evidently, adverse weather conditions have a direct impact in visibility during driving as they significantly reduce an observed object’s conspicuity. Consequently, a driver’s spatial awareness suffers under such environments as neighbouring vehicles and other objects may be veiled from view and become unnoticeable. Further, due to the attention seeking notifications of the various infotainment devices the driver’s attention can be dispersed in a fruitless gazing at the instrumentation panel dials, in the case of Head-Down Displays as well as discerning the hazy external scene. Hence in a potential abrupt braking of the lead vehicles the driver does not have the required time and spatial awareness to proceed in a collision avoidance braking manoeuvre.
This work investigates a novel design for an automotive full-windshield Head-Up Display (HUD) interface which aims to improve the driver’s spatial awareness and response times under low visibility conditions. To this end, I have designed and implemented a working prototype of a Human Machine Interface (HMI) to fulfil these requirements. Particular emphasis was placed on the prioritisation and effective presentation of information available through vehicular sensors, which would assist, without distracting, the driver in successfully navigating the vehicle under low visibility conditions. The proposed interface is based on minimalistic visual representations of real objects to offer a new form of interactive guidance for motorway environments.
The complete proposed HMI system has been evaluated in an Open Source Driving Simulator developed explicitly to measure drivers’ performance with the proposed HUD interface and compare its effectiveness to traditional instrumentation techniques. However the 2D visual representation of this simulator’s environment did not offer any information on the focusing perspective of the interface. Hence, driven by this observation, a second simulator was developed in order to investigate the calibration requirements of such a HUD interface and estimate an optimal focusing distance for the displayed information. To this end, the second simulator was stereoscopically enabled and appropriately named the Virtual Reality Driving Simulator (VRDS).
The outcome of this research so far suggests that the proposed HUD interface has a significant impact in the decrease of collisions occurred due to the aforementioned factors. Further information with regard on the HMI design for automotive HUDs, driving simulation development, AI for driving simulation agents, Vehicle to Vehicle MANETS and information prioritisation could be found in the publications’ section.